EUGENE, Ore. — A federal jury convicted the co-founder of an Islamic charity chapter Thursday on charges he helped smuggle $150,000 to Muslim fighters in Chechnya.
Pete Seda had been charged with conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government and filing a false return with the IRS. His lawyers say they will appeal.
Seda claimed the money was intended as a tithe that his accountant failed to disclose because of an error on a tax return for the U.S. chapter of the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation in Ashland.
But prosecutors claimed Seda had a more sinister purpose, arguing throughout the weeklong trial that he was a Muslim radical posing as a moderate promoting peace.
Assistant U.S. attorneys Charles Gorder Jr. and Chris Cardani told the jury that Al-Haramain distributed two different versions of Islam's holy book, the Quran, to U.S. prison inmates
The prosecutors said non-Muslims were issued a regular Quran while Muslim prisoners got an edition with an appendix calling for violence against Jews and nonbelievers.
Defense attorney Steven Wax, however, reminded jurors that a rabbi and a Christian minister testified on behalf of Seda, their neighbor, who has been a U.S. citizen for 16 years.
Seda, 52, shortened his last name from Sedaghaty and adopted the nickname Pete instead of his first name, Pirouz, after moving from his native Iran and attending Southern Oregon University in Ashlan>>>
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